After a short hospital stay, actress Erika Ferreira, 39, passes away in Rio; symptoms thought to be connected to Covid-19; test results pending
By Marques Travae
Sometimes in this life, when a crisis strikes, it takes one particular incident for the reality to really set in. I, like the rest of the world, have been following the developments, reports and tragedies of the so-called Covid-19 virus for several weeks now. When we first started getting bombarded news about the latest threat to human health, all I was hearing about was China this and China that. Soon after the focus shifted to Italy, a country with one of the highest median ages in the world.
Then, somewhere within those first few weeks, we started hearing about certain celebrities and athletes announcing that they had tested positive for coronavirus. To be honest with you, I still question validity of some of these announcements. It’s true. Somewhere in the back of mind, I still hear a little echo asking, “Really? Him/her too? OK.” But in the midst of any crisis, there’s always that one that makes you kinda pause for a minute and be like…”Damn”.
With the HIV/AIDs scare, I remember reacting this way to Rock Hudson and Freddie Mercury and then the Magic Johnson annoucement, the last two of which both happened in 1991. Well, it’s hit me again. And this time with a person that isn’t anywhere near as famous as the aforementioned three.
I had taken a break from some translation work today some time between 3-4 pm when I learned that Erika Ferreira had passed away. I’ll be honest and say, I don’t really remember even knowing of Ferreira. If I had come across her name in the past, I don’t remember. After all, I’ve learned about so many great, talented Afro-Brazilians in the theater world in the past few decades that it would be impossible to remember them all. But reading about her passing today really struck me.
And then I watched a brief clip of one of her mesmorizing performances and wondered, how had I never heard of her? The clip that I saw was taken from the musical É Samba Na Veia, É Candeia about the legendary samba composer Antônio Candeia Filho, known as simply Candeia. I had heard about this musical, so even having not known her by name, I remember having read about the excellent production.
According to the information we have at this time, Ferreira had been hospitalized at the Hospital de Clínicas Alameda, in Niterói (Rio de Janeiro state) since last Tuesday, with a strong flu, shortness of breath and symptoms that seemed to signal that the illness could have been caused from Covid-19. Erika also suffered from diabetes, one of the chronic ailments that keeps popping up among the casualties attributed to the virus.
The actress/singer was born in São Gonçalo, in the greater Rio de Janeiro area, about 13 miles from capital and most famous city of the state. Erika headed up the Aglomerados theater company. Although having participants in numerous productions, she is most known for the aforementioned musical É samba na veia, é Candeia, which tells the life story of Antônio Candeia Filho.
In the role of director, at the beginning of March, Erika had just opened released the children’s piece Em contos em encontros das águas, in the Santa Teresa district of Rio. This production of the show was recently stopped, as woith so many other programs, companies and businesses because of Covid-19. Other pieces directed by Erika include are Eu, Pequeno Príncipe, meu, Tirico e as histórias de morros e fossos and an adaptation of the Millôr Fernandes and Flávio Rangel piece, Liberdade, Liberdade. As an actress, the last piece she appeared in was in OMI – Do leito ao mar, directed by Gabriel Mendes.
The sad news about the Erika’s passing was divulged via Facebook by the Escola Técnica Estadual de Teatro Martins Penna, where the actress graduated:
“We just received the news. Unfortunately we are dismayed and apologize for the lack of more words at that moment. Let us send prayers for her passage and for family members.”
In consideration of the news about Erika, the school also took the time to request that people continue to practice self-distancing in an ongoing effort to stop the spread of Covid-19, a measure that President Jair Bolsonaro continues to disagree with. Against recommendations of experts, the President continues to see the pandemic as just “a little flu” that’s not a big enough threat to warrant Brazilians staying home.
The Escola Fábrica Oficina Social de Teatro, where Erika worked, also shared the news of the actress’s unfortunate demise:
“The whole OST family is sad right now. One of the great precursors of the institution’s history, our dear Erika Ferreira, has just left us. A star, a diva, a master, a partner, writer, director, actress, singer, producer, teacher, friend, businesswoman and, above all, sister of all of us have just entered heaven! We ask for prayers and intercessions. May God comfort her family. We love you! Thank you for everything! Go with God, our diva! Your song is holy and enchants the heart!”
Ferreira was an very much involved in the world of arts, often publishing updates on her involvement in productions on social networks directly from behind the scenes of theater companies. Actor Kadú Monteiro reflected on his friendship with Erika, whom he had known for 22 years:
“It is absurd to think that more than fifty percent of my friends I met through her. She was someone who brought people together and breathed art, a workaholic. Erika didn’t have biological children, but she leaves many children of theater in Brazil, because she trained many people. Now’s the time to pray and request that people stay at home.”
Erika leaves behind her husband, actor Sylvio Moura, who graduated from the same institution where she was trained. It has also been announced that the remains of the actress will be cremated in a private ceremony at 2 pm on Sunday. Erika’s social circle will hold a collective prayer online. A live homage will be helçd paid when protective measures against the coronavirus are over.
With information from Metropoles and O Globo